Guitar’s come in a variety of finishing that each require a different cleaning product. If your guitar is a wood stained, it requires a much different product than a high gloss finished guitar. So heed the tips at the end of this post for making sure you select the proper product for your guitar or instrument!
One approach is to use a polish that is good on guitar body finishes, so it’s a very safe option. I advise to double check what you’re buying either matches the type of body the guitar getting cleaned, or is an all purpose cleaner, which should be fairly obvious.
Most products will be applied with a cloth very similar to applying care for your car. Only a thin layer is needed, but read the bottle for directions.
For example, a satin finish (not shiny) don’t use a polish, rather just use a damp cloth or recommended oil. If a polish is used it will eventually leave shiny spots. Clear, shiny finishes (traditionally just called ‘finished’) use just a damp cloth, which will work perfect. A polish can also be used for the finished body types, but make sure it is recommended for a finished acoustic guitar.
To seal the cleaning job that has just been applied, a carnauba wax can work great to hold that shine and hide those swirls.
As well, the fret board or fingerboard gets a lot of wear put on it, since it’s the only thing that there is really solid continual contact on, and there are various conditioners that are used. One that is recommended by most is the Fret Doctor.
For myself, however, most of the time I prefer to just use a lightly damp cloth for routine weekly maintenance, but sometimes there are places where your arm rests on the guitar, or where a strap has worn a greasy spot into the guitar, that rub and make it look dull. This is ugly to some who want the shiny look of a new guitar!
In this case, the best bet is to use a cleaning product, which will come with its own application instructions.
For all types of cleaners used I recommend following a few simple rules.
- First, read the product label instructions for proper applications and don’t skip over the warnings! This will tell you what to avoid and how to apply the product for maximum results.
- Second, always put the product on a spot of cloth rather than squeezing a blob of product onto the guitar. This eliminates the risk of globing a lot onto the guitar and having it seep into holes, which would be really bad.
- Third, if the cloth becomes dirty from the grime that is being removed from the guitar, use another section of cloth or another cloth entirely. This is especially critical on the body because we don’t want to leave any scratches on our beautiful finish.